MSC streamlines chain of custody, auditing for 2,800 businesses

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) has updated its chain of custody standard to include a new specific set of requirements designed to work better for consumer-facing companies like restaurants, fishmongers and caterers.

Organizations now choose to be certified against one of three versions of the standard, depending on the nature of their business:

•    Default – for single or multi-site organizations trading certified seafood;
•    Group – for organizations with a central office function and many locations trading certified seafood such as co-operatives or franchises;
•    Consumer-facing – for retailers, restaurants, caterers and fish mongers or fresh fish counters of any size selling or serving certified seafood directly to end consumers.

Other key changes to the standard include clearer requirements for identification and traceability of certified products and more specific requirements for companies to confirm the certified status of products upon receipt, and to ensure they only purchase from certified suppliers.

The new version of the standard for consumer-facing organizations was developed following feedback from 200 stakeholders and was piloted with six previously uncertified companies.

Scott Taylor, category manager at Baxter Storey, a U.K.-based contract caterer that took part in the pilot, said the company found that the updated standard was “straightforward, logical and meshes well” with its current systems.

The chain of custody standard ensures that consumers can have absolute confidence in claims about the sustainability and sourcing of the seafood they are buying, said David Agnew, standards director at the MSC.

“While DNA sampling of seafood demonstrates that the MSC chain of custody standard works, we recognize that industry does not stand still and that our program requires regular improvement. The updates announced today are the result of a year-long consultation with industry representatives. They mean that the MSC scheme is more straightforward and applicable to different companies along the supply chain,” said Agnew.

More than 2,800 organizations in more than 75 countries currently hold a chain of custody certificate.

All MSC chain of custody audits must apply the updated standard from 1 September 2015.


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